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who stood reading by her side. Half-a-dozen boys and girls were seated upon low forms, while on a separate stool stood the dunce of the establishment, wearing a pointed fool's cap on his curly head. I fear the punishment did not affect him much, though he endeavoured, as Mrs. Somerville looked in, to assume a sorrowful countenance; and it certainly did not affect his companions, one of whom was slily twitching his leg.
"That's not much like my school, mamma," said Walter; "and I don't think that good old dame with the spectacles seems able to teach such a lot of boys and girls."
"No, indeed, Walter; and now that there are such excellent schools in every parish, I wonder parents can be found willing to waste their children's precious time in such useless places. I fear, however, it is the only way in which the poor dame can secure an honest living, and I am sure she finds the work both wearisome and laborious."
"Oh, just look, mamma, at that silly gosling! There, in the pond yonder! Don't you see? it has waddled up the raised plank, and is now
afraid to drop into the water. And there is the old mother-goose calling her, quack, quack, quack!"
"Now you may learn a lesson, Walter, from even such a trifling circumstance as this. What do you think it is?"
"What! Learn a lesson from a gosling perched on an elevated plank? Oh no,mamma!"
"Yes; you may take it as a warning not to undertake things beyond your strength—not to attempt too much. Some men fail in life by attempting too little, but many, many more fail by attempting too much; that is, by an unreasonable ambition, covetousness, and love of show."
"I should never have thought of finding a lesson in a silly gosling."
"Ay, Walter, but you must learn to keep
your eyes open, and to make everything useful as a source of instruction. Shakspeare, the greatest of our poets, has told us that we should find
'Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.'
A RURAL SCENE. 39
For instance, in the field on your left hand you may see the reapers busy at work, gathering the golden corn. The seed has been sown in good soil, and it brings forth an hundredfold. Does not this remind you of Our Lord's parable of the Sower? Ah, my dear Walter, may the seed of knowledge and truth sown in your young mind hereafter yield as bountiful a return!"
As they approached Beyminster they came in sight of a rural scene which pleased Walter greatly. Outside the door of a very clean and neat-looking cottage, and under a fine old oak, was placed a kennel, belonging to a mastiff of very good appearance. Her sleek skin showed that she was well cared for; and that she was a pet of the family was evident from the manner in which the children had gathered round her. One boy knelt in front, regarding her with admiring eyes; and another, with eyes not less admiring, leant over the kennel; while a young girl, seated on the ground, was holding in her lap one of the said mastiff's pups. The group was completed by another pup, which surveyed the whole with a glance of great intelligence.